Xalda sheep

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Oveja Xalda

The history of Xalda sheep dates back to 27 BC, when Estrabon (the Greek geographer and historian) in his work “Geography” speaks of black tunics made by members of the Asturi tribe from the wool of this breed. According to Cayo Esteban, a veterinarian specializing in sheep and goat breeds (he recently edited the volume “Razas ganaderas espanolas ovinas”, published by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) , the Xalda breed is one of the oldest in Spain. In the 18th century there were 600,000 of these sheep spread around the Principality of Asturias. Twelve years ago, when the association of breeders was set up, only 400 remained. The situation has gradually improved: today there are 1700 sheep and 128 breeders. The flocks of Xalda sheep, which are raised in mountain pastures, have an important function for agriculture and the environment: they help to conserve native flora and keep the pastures in a good state by removing weeds and small bushes, and thus reducing the fire risk. Thanks to their high quality diet, the lamb has high protein content and is of higher quality than meat from other animals: it is tender with the right percentage of fat. The shepherds, who have inherited an age-old culture, continue with their efforts to safeguard this breed’s survival. Thanks to their work, Xalda sheep are still an important part of Asturian tradition. In specifying the exact wool color of these animals, shepherds use an extremely rich and specialized vocabulary.

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Principado de Asturias

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Breeds and animal husbandry